Nikole Hannah-Jones: Push to Ban 1619 Project from Being Taught in Schools ‘Is Fundamentally a Free Speech Issue’

Monday on CNN’s “New Day,” New York Times writer and “1619 Project” creator Nikole Hannah-Jones sounded off on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leading a group of senators in calling on the Biden administration to withdraw the “1619 Project” from federal grant programs. McConnell, in a letter, described the curriculum as “politicized” and “divisive.”

According to Hannah-Jones, the call to ban the curriculum “is fundamentally a free speech issue.” She argued the 1619 Project’s aim is to “teach children the truth about what our country was based upon,” which is slavery and “legalized discrimination against black Americans.”

“I’d like to kind of reframe the question just a bit because this is fundamentally a free speech issue,” Hannah-Jones outlined. “If you look at the rhetoric of Senator McConnell and of state legislators all across the country that are trying to get bills passed to prohibit the teaching of the 1619 Project, it’s not about the facts of history. It’s about trying to prohibit the teaching of ideas that they don’t like. … You know, I’ve been a little appalled by the silence of free speech advocates as their attempts to ban ideas from being taught in schools are being introduced all across the country. But in response to what he’s saying … of course, there is no single line or argument in the 1619 Project that claims that this country is an evil country. And it’s frankly a ridiculous assertion. If you read my opening essay on democracy in the 1619 Project, in fact, what I say is that despite everything that this country has done to black America, black Americans have seen the worst of America and yet still believe in its best. I actually argue that black people are the greatest democratizing force in this country. So, no, this isn’t a project about trying to teach children that our country is evil, but it is a project trying to teach children the truth about what our country was based upon. And it’s only in really confronting that truth. Slavery was foundational to the United States.”

She continued, “We — after slavery — experienced 100 years of legalized discrimination against black Americans, and those are simply the facts of our history. What Mitch McConnell and others like him want is for our children to get a propagandistic, nationalistic understanding of history that is not about facts but is about how they would want to pretend that our country is.”

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent


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